Those of you who know me and have spent any amount of time with me have no doubt realized that I have lost quite a bit of weight in the last ten months or so. I have tried not to talk about it too much except with my closest friends as I know it can be a sensitive topic for some, but I thought I would write up how I did it for those who might be curious. I do this not to judge others but to show that it can be done. I feel so much better having lost the weight that I would like others to experience the same feelings I have.
How I Started
Last summer we went to the beach to celebrate my mom’s birthday. We all had a great time. I didn’t realize this vacation was going to change my life in addition to being a great time away with family. It all started the night of the celebration when I had three pieces of delicious birthday cake (I am not sure i could do that now, more on that later) and then I went to bed shortly after. I noticed that night that I had to use the bathroom way more than usual. Diabetes runs in my family, and that is one of the symptoms of diabetes. My father noticed it as well and threatened to check my blood sugar. I didn’t think it was a big deal, or maybe I didn’t want to know, so I just avoided the topic all week and hoped everyone would forget about it. In reality it was a combination of not wanting to know and not really thinking anything was seriously wrong. After all it was just one night, and more to the point I didn’t want to have to change my lifestyle. Fortunately for my long term health, my dad doesn’t forget easily. So when we got home, he brought up the topic of checking my blood. I agreed to have it checked, and I don’t remember what it was but I do remember it was high. Not horribly high but high enough that my family and I were both concerned. It was hard to deny the number staring me in the face. My parents had both told me for a while now that I needed to deal with my weight, and I just didn’t care, at least not enough to make serious changes. I had exercise equipment in my apartment but it never seemed to get used. And I ate what I suppose would be a typical American diet. While I did eat meals, I did a lot of snacking and drank a lot of orange juice and lemonade, both no nos for diabetics. But I could still get around OK, so I didn’t think there was a problem. I was having to fit in bigger and bigger clothes, but I chose to ignore that fact. That all changed. After the blood sugar reading, my parents weighed me as well. I am about 5-11 and weighed 222 pounds, which I didn’t realize at the time put me squarely in the obese category according to BMI. I know BMI isn’t perfect, but in my case I think it did a pretty good job of indicating that I was way above what my weight should have been. So then I realized that I did need to do something. I had always stupidly told myself that I would just make changes whenever I became diabetic, not really thinking that would happen even though my grandfather and father are both type one diabetics. Denial is a very strong reaction, let me tell you. But I knew my time had run out. I am so glad things happened the way they did. I think this was God’s way of getting my attention. I went to the doctor shortly after and was relieved to learn that I was not diabetic, though my a1c of 5.7 was borderline prediabetic. and while I didn’t know that for another week or so, I knew right then and there that I had to do something regardless of whether I was diabetic or not.
the kitchen cleanse
Those of you who know my mother, or any mother for that matter, will not be surprised that all Sunday afternoon plans were cancelled that weekend. I was originally going to either return home on the bus or be driven there by one of my parents, but it was decided that both my parents were going to drive me up so we could go through my kitchen and see what foods I couldn’t have. I wasn’t happy about this, but I knew it had to be done. I was sufficiently scared. The thought of giving myself insulin shorts and/or checking my blood sugar multiple times a day was not a pleasant one. Diabetes is, or can be, a very difficult disease to manage. I knew i had to do everything I could to avoid it. So out went the huge bags of pretzels and chips that I went through on a regular basis. Also out was orange juice and lemonade. This was pretty much all I drank, so this was a big deal. But I have found diet lemonade that, while it doesn’t taste the same as regular lemonade, tastes pretty satisfying, and honestly I don’t miss regular lemonade anymore. I still have it occasionally when I go out to eat, and it is nice but I don’t feel deprived not having it. I also got tv dinners that were smaller and more healthy. I replaced the huge bags of chips and pretzels with individually packaged snacks. I have used different snacks, right now I eat oreo thins and peanut butter crackers as well as pringles in my lunch. But the key is not necessarily what you eat but how much you eat. Now I eat my meals and allow myself one package of snacks whatever it may be after supper. then i don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning. If I am still feeling a little empty before bed I will grab a drink of something to hold me over. I have found over time that my body is used to eating much less than it was. Huge restaurant portions are not as appealing as they once were for example. I think if you consistently eat less food, your body will get used to less food. It is hard at fist, though not as hard as i had envisioned. Having the portion sizes really helped. There is something psychological about finishing a small package of cookies and knowing that is all you can have and that is OK.
I know the dietary changes I made accounted for a majority of my weight loss.. Cutting out lemonade and orange juice alone, especially with the amount I used to drink, was huge. Cutting out salty pretzels in large quantities helped also. But at this time I did start exercising as well. I had a treadmill but can’t use it anymore because I don’t feel safe walking on it. So I started using the exercise bike that had been sitting vacant for a long time. I had always pledged to use it before, but this time I meant business. Before I had always said I would do it when I got home from work. That may work for some people, but it never worked for me. I would come home and get distracted or just not feel like it at all. So I started getting up early and riding. I started out slowly at first. Pretty quickly I built up to 30 minutes at a leisurely pace. Then I heard about interval training and decided to give it a try. i noticed that it got my heart rate up faster and made me feel like I was really exercising. I had already lost a good deal of weight before starting the interval training, but I think the interval training has been great for me. Now I still do 30 minutes, but I feel like I get much more out of that 30 minutes.
I am now down to 156 pounds from 222. I wish I had done it sooner. I used to be really tired in the afternoon and have little energy when I got home from work. Now my energy level has improved tremendously. My walking has also improved. I still need to use a quad cane for balance, but I feel much more confident, and standing up is much easier. I can also walk further distances. I wish I would have done this much sooner. I would encourage those of you who may need to lose a few pounds to give it a try. I know it is easier for some than others, it was not as hard for me as I thought it would be, but you will feel much better for it. One thing that helped me was investing in a talking scale so I could check my weight periodically. While I didn’t measure my self worth by the number on the scale, seeing the number go down was encouraging and kept me accountable. Even though i haven’t lost weight in a while, I still weigh myself to make sure I am on the right track. I am a numbers driven guy, I do computer programming for a living, so having numbers in front of me helps. Most doctors recommend weighing weekly, I weigh myself daily but just for fun. I don’t really care what the number is anymore, but if I notice my weight going up over a period of days I take notice. I would only recommend this if you can do this and not obsess over it. Otherwise weekly is fine. I hope this post can help someone. With some motivation, anyone can lose weight and maintain it as well as live a satisfying life. May God bless you all.